Competition was fierce in the micro-video division, with first place going to The Decision by M. Ayub, a team composed of Indonesians working in Taiwan. The happy team members are shown here celebrating their accomplishment.
There are currently about 800,000 people from Southeast Asia living in Taiwan. To encourage them to record their thoughts and feelings about their lives here, the Global Workers’ Organization, Taiwan recently held the 2016 Taiwan Migrants Video Award, giving migrant workers an opportunity to use the camera lens to tell their stories and show what Taiwan looks like through their eyes, and giving the people of Taiwan a chance to know them better.
The 2016 Taiwan Migrants Video Awards ceremony was held on a sweltering Sunday afternoon in late July in the 3rd-floor briefing room at the Taiwan Land Bank Exhibition Hall in Taipei. Packed with migrant workers from Southeast Asia, the scene was a virtual microcosm of the Southeast-Asian region.
According to Karen Hsu, director of the Global Workers’ Organization, Taiwan (GWO), there are roughly 800,000 people from Southeast Asia living in Taiwan, including 600,000 migrant workers, 140,000 who are here through marriage, and 45,000 students. The idea behind the Taiwan Migrants Video Awards is to provide a platform through which these migrant workers, who’ve come to Taiwan in search of their dreams, can show Taiwan as they’ve come to know it.
According to Director Chen Chi-min of the National Taiwan Museum, the joint organizer of the awards event, Taiwan is an immigrant society. Different ethnic groups have assimilated with each other and come to understand each other to the point they no longer even draw distinctions among themselves. Taiwanese society today is becoming increasingly diverse. Under such circumstances, the Taiwan Migrants Video Award will only have meaning for a limited time. Within 30 years, the event probably won’t be held any longer, and it will certainly be a thing of the past 50 years from now, because everyone will be assimilated by then.
Noerman Adhiguna, a senior assistant in the Labor Department at the Indonesian Economic and Trade Office to Taipei, attended the awards ceremony to show support for the Indonesian migrant workers. In prepared remarks, he thanked the GWO for providing a venue where migrant workers can express themselves, which he said is very empowering. Migrant workers are in no way inferior to anyone else, he said, voicing hope that everyone will give migrant workers encouragement.
Filming one’s own story
This year’s contest was divided into a citizen journalist division and a micro-video division. There were nine entries in the citizen journalist division and 15 in the micro-video division.
Andry Setyowati of Indonesia took the top prize in the citizen journalist division with Miles from Our Home “Amazing Kaohsiung.” Currently working as a home care provider in Kaohsiung, she has come to like the city immensely and therefore decided to make a video introducing the best that Kaohsiung has to offer, including the Kaohsiung Public Library, the Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Qijin Harbor, and night markets. Ms. Setyowati said she was very happy to be able to take part in this meaningful event, but added that winning or losing was of little importance. The important thing is to win back a bit of oneself through artistic creation.
Didik Setyawan, an Indonesian youth who dresses in a distinctly hip-hop style, took second place in the citizen journalist division with Tempat Liburan Yang Ideas (“good places to go on the weekend”), and also won in the online voting for the most popular documentary video. Taking to the stage twice to receive awards, he attracted a lot of attention. In his video, he acted as a tourism ambassador, showing viewers little known but interesting places where he likes to go on the weekends. After riding a rental bike around the Sanchong Sports Park, which takes him to a baseball diamond and then a flea market under the Chongxin Bridge, he proceeds to the main lobby at Taipei Railway Station to chat with friends and eat some Indonesian food. Through his lens, you can tag along as he makes his way around the city.
Randy Heriyanto, a native of Indonesia now studying at National Yunlin University of Science and Technology (YunTech), took joint third place with 2 Years in Taiwan. The video shows some of the more notable aspects of Taiwanese culture that he came across over a two-year period, including the Yanshui Beehive Fireworks Festival, the Lantern Festival, and acupuncture. He also demonstrates traditional Indonesian singing and dancing to Taiwanese students.
Sharing third-place honors was Dina Yeni Martia, who also hails from Indonesia and studies at YunTech. Her video focuses solely on the Yanshui Beehive Fireworks Festival. At very close range, she films the furious fireworks display, faithfully recording this famed aspect of Taiwan’s Lantern Festival celebrations. Upon viewing the video, it’s hard to remember you’re not actually right there at the scene!
The micro-video division was even more fiercely contested, with first place going to The Decision by M. Ayub, a team composed of Indonesians working in Taiwan. The film tells the tale of a young Indonesian mother who is studying in Taiwan, far from her beloved child and husband. Although her days in Taiwan are busy and fulfilling, the separation from loved ones is a source of great pain. After receiving the award, the members of M. Ayub said they would continue pursuing their dreams and recording the experiences of migrant workers.
Dwi Wahyudi MDP of Indonesia claimed second place in the micro-video division with TKI Bisa Apa (“What can a migrant worker do?”). He says that a lot of people wonder what a migrant worker in Taiwan can do, but what they actually lack is opportunities, so he urges people not to give up on their dreams because success can be achieved.
Three filmmakers shared third place. Nguyen Thu Hang, a student from Vietnam, won with A Diary of Thu Hang’s Life in Taiwan. Sucy Crishya of Indonesia was honored for Susah di Penampungan Sampai Sukses di Negeri Orang (“I will succeed”). And Dang Do Hung of Vietnam rounded out the trio with Working.
Nguyen Thu Hang came to study in Taiwan six years ago, and is now a graduate student at National Taiwan Normal University. Very homesick at first, she gradually became acclimated to life in Taiwan as her Chinese improved. She has taught Vietnamese to Taiwanese people, and has had the opportunity to take part in the filming and production of video shorts. Experiences like these have enabled her to better understand Taiwanese culture.
Sucy Crishya, who works in Taiwan as a home care provider, uses her beautiful voice to sing all about her life as a migrant worker, and has even released recordings. She encourages other migrant workers to try their hand at other lifestyles.
Dang Do Hung, who is studying in Taiwan, took advantage of his underwater diving work with oceanographers to record his adventures at the sea bottom just off Green Island, where he has witnessed coral spawning and seen all sorts of rare marine life forms. The beauty of undersea life has been unforgettable for him. He said the Taiwan Migrants Video Award is a deeply meaningful event, and thanked the GWO for creating a platform where migrant workers can express themselves.
Yusuf Efendi, a migrant worker from Indonesia, won the online voting for most popular video in the micro-video division with Running into Love, which tells of his passion for recording wherever he goes in photography, and recounts how the hobby led to his falling in love.
According to Leon Chuang, a long-time advocate of citizen journalism who served as a judge in the contest, this year’s entries were a lot better than last year’s. The contestants this year told heartfelt stories, expressing their experiences and feelings about life in Taiwan with honesty and self-confidence. From choice of topics to camera technique, Chuang said he saw a lot of progress.
Another judge, the veteran television producer Hu Wu-yi, said she felt quite moved and happy to see that foreigners working and studying in Taiwan can still find the time and energy to film the things that the locals here are so intimately familiar with, but to do so from their own unique perspectives. This is what multiculturalism is all about, she said.
A festive atmosphere reigned as the Taiwan Migrants Video Award ceremony came to a conclusion. This event, which facilitates self-expression through video by migrant workers from Southeast Asia, shows Taiwan through their eyes, and draws Taiwan’s attention to migrant workers. This increases mutual understanding and builds bridges of friendship that enhance people-to-people ties between Taiwan and Southeast Asia.